“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)
महात्मानस् तु मां पार्थ
दैवीं प्रकृतिम् आश्रिताः
ज्ञात्वा भूतादिम् अव्ययम्
mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam
“It is considered a glorious death. Even the purest of devotees, who have been devoted to God the person for many years, without deviation, without blemish, and without motive – they are jealous of King Dasharatha’s passing.
“The reason being that they feel similar pains of separation. They long for personal association with the one of moonlike face, who further brightened the solar dynasty. They always think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His avatara of Shri Rama.
“They lament that they are stuck in the land of illusion, suffering through birth after birth, with no end in sight. They follow the regulative principles, avoiding the four pillars of sinful life, and regularly chant the holy names.
“Yet their hearts are still beating. They are not aggrieved by the separation to the point of leaving this world. Queen Kausalya couldn’t believe her misfortune at the sequence of events. Her son Rama left the kingdom for fourteen years. What kind of mother survives such an ordeal? Her own husband soon passed on. He was thinking of Rama the entire time. The separation was too much to bear.
“As I like to consider every angle of vision, I am wondering why Dasharatha simply could not wait out the period of exile. The other people in Ayodhya did.
“Sadly, life features such ups and downs. For every high, there is a low. With every downturn, there is the possibility of future redemption. Imagine how sweet the vision of a returning Rama would be. We know how great it is since there is an annual celebration in honor of the moment. Diwali.”
Shastra has practically every question covered. There are different ways to explain the situation. The primary reasoning for the king’s demise is that there was supposedly a previous act in karma that later gave a rebound effect. What happened to Dasharatha was previously inflicted by him on someone else.
He caused parents to lose the association of their child, and so the same would happen to him in the future. This is the explanation within the system of karma, but the devotee is always under the protection of the Divine energy.
It should also be acknowledged that no one can extend life beyond what is previously allotted to them. The healthiest person in the world will pass when the time is right. The unhealthy can survive because destiny has predetermined a certain amount of time spent in the land of birth and death, within a particular form of body.
The entire episode was Rama’s arrangement. As acknowledged by the wise, to keep the Almighty on the consciousness at the time of quitting this world is the perfection of living. It is the highest achievement. The end is inevitable, so anyone who can remain fixed in that consciousness has done something special.
From the practical side, imagine if the sun set tonight and vowed not to return for fourteen years. If there were perpetual darkness for the entire duration, with only artificial lighting as a substitute, how would a person tolerate?
It would be a difficult challenge to overcome. The pain of separation would be too much to bear. There is a natural reliance, one that is so deep that no one consciously considers it. The sun carries that much significance to basic living.
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
Shri Rama held such importance in Dasharatha’s life. Living or dying was the same for the king, as everything was aligned with dharma, for the purpose of pleasing the one from whom everything has come.
For His pleasure done,
From whom everything has come.
Dasharatha with dharma aligned,
So God as his son to find.
But separation too much to bear,
Even when time of exile aware.
Because always under Divine protection,
Not a curse in that selection.